Yet in a far flung-pocket of the world, scientists are watching in alarm as a different kind of crisis unfolds — one that may, too, have global consequences.
Siberia, the famously frost-bitten region of Russia, is on fire.
Large areas of the province are ablaze, even in its upper reaches. North of the Arctic Circle, tundra that is typically too cold and wet to burn is being scorched, sending clouds of smoke billowing into the sky.
🟠 A massive #wildfire🔥 in the #SakhaRepublic, #ArcticCircle, #Siberia, #Russia🇷🇺 creating some #pyrocumulonimbus clouds☁️ 9 July 2020 #Copernicus #Sentinel-2🛰️ Full-size ➡️ https://t.co/GZDvYMUxWr + https://t.co/QsJleyRoSM #OpenData #scicomm #RemoteSensing Image is 71 km wide pic.twitter.com/crAzGxzfTn— Pierre Markuse (@Pierre_Markuse) July 9, 2020
Russia is no stranger to summer wildfires, of course, but these are far more widespread, more ferocious and farther north than normal.
"I was a little shocked to see a fire burning 10 kilometres south of a bay of the Laptev Sea, which is like, the sea-ice factory of the world," Jessica McCarty, a fire researcher at Miami University in Ohio, told National Geographic. "When I went into fire science as an undergraduate student, if someone had told me I'd be studying fire regimes in Greenland and the Arctic, I would have laughed at them."
The fires, which started mid-June, are a product of a record-breaking heatwave across the region, which saw a confirmed peak of 38 degrees Celsius in the town of Verkhoyansk on June 20. That was among a run of 11 days in a row over 30 degrees.